Like all genres, boxing movies have a formula. It’s a formula that often involves a young, scrappy athlete from the wrong side of the tracks who overcomes adversity while facing unexpected setbacks. Along the way there are usually plenty of flashy montages and ellipses to move us forward through time, skipping elegantly through the training sessions, the epic bouts, the rise and fall and inevitable return.
A new clip from the upcoming Roberto Durán biopic Hands of Stone shows us exactly how director Jonathan Jakubowicz has taken on this formula and made it his own. Starting out on a humble street in a colonial Panamanian neighborhood, we see a young Roberto Durán receiving some words of wisdom from his first trainer, “Plomo,” while Robert De Niro‘s Ray Arcel waxes nostalgic about the boxers origins in voiceover. As the camera spins and swoops around the duo, we’re shown brief clips of Durán and Plomo training at the gym, a young Durán knocking out his opponents, and an older Durán – played by Édgar Ramírez – applying these same words of wisdom on a larger stage.
It’s a montage that hits all the buttons we expect from the genre, though when you compare it to masterpieces like Raging Bull or even the Rocky saga, it doesn’t open much new ground. The camera’s constant, dizzying movement doesn’t seem to contribute much to the narrative, and seems downright excessive when the two characters are simply sitting around a table. But we can still appreciate that Jakubowicz is working firmly within a tradition that has brought us some of film’s greatest masterpieces.
Hands of Stone premieres August 26, 2016 in theaters nationwide.